On Monday, Judge Edward J. Davila of the Northern District of California filed an order granting in part and denying in part Apple’s motion to dismiss a putative class action that claims of Apple’s alleged unlawful and deceptive business practices related to a widespread Apple gift card scam.
According to the filings, between 2015 and 2019, scammers stole more than $93.5 million through a “formulaic gift card scam.” The scam works as follows: the scammer coerces someone to buy an Apple gift card and send them the code. Then the scammer inputs the code into a self-made app which is then paid back to the scammer within two months, “effectively convert[ing] gift card codes into money.” The plaintiffs alleged that Apple “knew or should have known” which Apple IDs belonged to scammers and that this is a “widespread and impactful phenomenon.” Furthermore, Apple “could have” suspended accounts with suspicious activity. However, Apple makes a 30% commission off of each of these scams, and increased the highest level of gift card to $500, which the plaintiffs claimed that this meant Apple was “aiding and abetting” these scammers.
The court found that Apple refused to refund a number of the plaintiffs even though they contacted Apple within a week of being scammed, so the claim of concealing or withholding stolen property under section 496(a) applies. Only these same plaintiffs adequately pleaded conversion, as the rest failed to report their stolen Apple gift cards to Apple. However, the third-party liability claim was dismissed as the plaintiffs did not adequately argue that Apple gave “‘substantial assistance or encouragement’ to the scammers.” Furthermore, fraud claims were not properly pled as “they d[id] not adequately plead reliance and resulting damage necessary to state a claim for fraud by affirmative misrepresentation.”
The court granted in part and denied in part Apple’s motion to dismiss, specifically the counts of third-party liability, fraud by affirmative misrepresentation, claims made by certain plaintiffs, and portions of unlawful conduct claims.
This is not the first time that Apple has tried to dismiss this lawsuit. It previously moved to toss the suit in October 2020.